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Fire chief studies at Harvard

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Saugeen Shores Fire Chief Phil Eagleson has won a fellowship to attend Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., this month.

Eagleson, who began studying at the prestigious U.S. university this week, received a fellowship in the senior executives in state and local government program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

"I am a little nervous and truly humbled to be in the same learning forum with some of the most effective leaders in the world," Eagleson wrote in e-mail response to questions Monday evening. "Absolutely amazing faculty involved in the program."

The program includes other state and local government leaders from across the U.S. and other countries with the focus on exploring the interrelationships between citizens and governments, analyzing policy options and examining the ethical and professional responsibilities of exercising leadership.

Eagleson said in his e-mail that Congressmen and women, Senators, city managers and CAOs, a supreme court justice, secretary of state, chief of staff, mayors and councillors are taking part in the course. There are a total of 62 students from five countries.

Eagleson wrote that the 21-day course is an intense condensed study with long days from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are also events on the weekends.

"I had dinner tonight with the last living staff advisor to JFK. He is presenting tomorrow" wrote Eagleson, who added there are more than 15 instructors and guest speakers involved in the course.

Eagleson received his fellowship from the Fire Protection Publications (FPP), International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

With the exception of travel costs, all expenses including tuition, materials and housing were covered by the four sponsor organizations, Eagleson wrote.

The U.S. Fire Administration ran the selection process.

Eagleson wrote that he applied online about six months ago. He wrote some essays and did interviews for two days last month at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md. He presented a five year plan of challenges facing the fire service in Ontario.

"The next five years are going to b very challenging for volunteer fire services in Ontario. Fire departments will need to find efficiencies and partnership to ensure service levels are maintained," Eagleson wrote. "The program will allow me access to an alumni of highly efficient professionals that have faced similar challenges within their respected organizations."

Eagleson was one of four recipients of the fellowship. The others were Deputy Chief Joel Baker of the Atlanta Fire-Rescue Department, Assistant Chief Michael Romas of the Milwaukee Fire Department and Deputy Commissioner Derrick Sawyer of the Philadelphia Fire Department.

Eagleson is scheduled to return home on June 23.

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